Speaker Interview: Joe Brockmeier

Joe Brockmeier is giving a talk on "Understanding Software Collections" and will be part of the Infrastructure.Next track at SCALE 12X. The SCALE Team caught up with Joe for this brief interview.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: My name is Joe Brockmeier, many of my friends call me Zonker. I got started with Linux and open source in 1996, when I discovered a Slackware 4-CD set and decided to take it home and try it out. A few years later, I got a job with LinuxMall.com, and from there went into writing about Linux and open source full-time. From 2000 to 2007, I wrote for just about any publication that was Linux-related and a few that weren't.

Since then, I've worked for Novell as the first openSUSE community manager, and with Citrix as part of the open cloud team. Last August, I joined Red Hat's Open Source and Standards (OSAS) team, and I work on a variety of projects there.

Q: You're giving a talk on "Understanding Software Collections." Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: One of the problems that we face today is that the pace of releasing the OS isn't necessarily the ideal pace for releasing applications. You may want to run software on your systems that's much newer than what's shipped with your distribution. For example, you may be running RHEL or CentOS 5.x but want to run a current version of Ruby on Rails - without having to upgrade your entire OS.

Software Collections allow you to do just that. My talk will look at the problems we face with packaged software, and some of the solutions that are coming out to deal with them. I'll also touch on containers/Docker, and some other ideas.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: No, I've been to plenty of SCALEs. I started attending in 2006, I think, and have only missed one (if I recall correctly) since then.

SCALE is consistently one of the best volunteer-run conferences in North America. It draws a great crowd, and it's always a lot of fun. Raging Sharknadoes couldn't keep me away.

Q: Are Software Collections just a different version of system software?

A: No, there's more to Software Collections than just a different set of software. Software Collections let you install newer (or older) software, or third party software, on your system and only enable them for specific applications.

For example, if you have a newer release of Ruby on Rails installed, you have to "enable" it for an application or the application won't "see" it - thus ensuring you don't have unintended conflicts.

There's quite a bit more to SCLs than just random gobs of software. You'll definitely want to catch my talk and understand how this can help with your test and production systems.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: I'd like to remind people we're doing Infrastructure.Next on Friday, and they should sign up and attend that as well! More info on the schedule
and tickets here: http://lanyrd.com/2014/infra-at-scale/

[Interview by SCALE Team member Larry Cafiero]